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Interviews and school project related questions in here...

ANSWERS TO THE MARINE BIOLOGY Interview...

ANSWERS TO THE MARINE BIOLOGY Interview...

Postby Izzy » 4/28/07

David, the director/founder of http://www.marinebio.org gave these answers:

Here's my short answers based on all I've heard from marine biologists and my personal experience. I run MarineBio.org but I am not actually a Marine Biologist, yet though I am a Geoscientist with lots of experience with marine biology and work with marine biologists frequently. I hope to earn a MS/PhD in Marine Biology some day soon. Here goes:

1. What kind of schooling do you go through to be a marine biologist?

It is primarily a Masters of Science (MS) and PhD degree but many schools are now also offering Bachelors of Science (BS) in Marine Biology as well. Many suggest that the undergraduate degree should be a general Biology or Zoology degree and then go for your Marine Biology degree/s in graduate school. An MS in Marine Biology is usually required to get good jobs and to be able to publish on your own.

2. What kind of salary do you make?

Marine Biologists usually make average salaries like everyone else. BS degrees typically range from $30-40K and MS degrees often get $40-70K+. It's highly variable though and many jobs are very tough to get because they are few and there are many applicants. The more people are aware of the need for more study concerning marine life, the more jobs will become available. We have a long way to go in that area.

3. What colleges should I shoot for?

The top three, in my opinion, are Woods Hole, Scripps, and UCSB or maybe the University of Miami: Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.... See http://marinebio.org/marinebio/careers/US-schools.asp for a list of possible schools we've compiled.... The list changes every once and awhile and I'm sure we've missed some but it should help.

4. What, in your opinion, are the advantages and disadvantages of being a marine biologist?

No disadvantages except maybe that this country often treats scientists disrespectfully when the good ones should be treated better than any actor or sports figure based on the usefulness of their contributions. All our great comforts and advances come from science yet the media and far too many people treat science as something to be feared or some such nonsense. Another disadvantage is that when you really start studying marine life, especially in it's natural habitats, you are bound to run into the negative effects our species is causing. See http://marinebio.org/oceans/conservation/ for more information.

The advantages are endless for those truly passionate about the field. That holds for any field too.

5. What skills are required in marine biology?

Helps to be interested in biology, math and science overall. Communications is also becoming more and more vital so learning to write and communicate well is highly recommended. See the interviews above for more on this.

6. How would I get a job in marine biology after college?

You would first talk with your advisors or having interned/worked/volunteered with companies during breaks you may have something waiting for you that way. There are a thousand ways to look for jobs, your career advisors should be able to help a lot. Online resources abound as well, such as:

http://marinebio.org/directory/categori ... ources.asp

7. If you could do all this over, get another profession or keep this one, which would you do and why?

I would do just what I suggest above though I don't regret becoming a geoscientist first, it's a great foundation to be able to study nearly all sciences.

8. What is some of the types of equipment marine biologists use?

Besides, lab equipment, boats/ships and various oceanographic equipment including water samplers, various nets and traps, they use computers (see http://marinebio.org/research/projects/tools) as well as submarines if they are lucky, see: http://marinebio.org/oceans/submarines. Some also scuba dive and also use photographic and video systems to capture images and footage of behaviors, etc. See http://marinebio.org/oceans/scuba/ and viewforum.php?f=20 for more information.

9. What kind of marine biology fields would incorporate robotics?

The ones where robotics would be used for sampling or exploring places humans cannot go. For example, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are used often instead of manned submersibles for various reasons (cost, safety, speed of deployment, etc.). So Deep-sea research uses robotics as well as whenever ROVs are used.

10. What are some of the different fields of marine biology, and how much (approx.) do they make?

Salaries are discussed above and apply here too. See http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-biology.asp, http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-cons ... iology.asp and the interviews above to learn more about the different fields often involved in marine biology.

11. What kind of people do you work with? What sort of personality do you need?

I work with average people and some remarkable ones too. Everyone needs a calm and friendly personality to go with their top-notch skills. Much research (including the work behind MarineBio.org) involves teams and team members need to be able to communicate effectively as well amicably. Type B and even C personalities are best.

12. What kind of responsibilities do you have?

I am responsible for MarineBio.org and the Plankton Forums, as well as working with the volunteers and interns, and our project teams on our various projects.

13. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a marine biologist or just started?

Enjoy what you do every second you can. If marine biology keeps you up at night and you cannot get enough of it, then read all the books, watch the films and take all the science and math classes you can. It will be hard work but if it continues to be your passion then no price is too high to succeed in it.

14. Why aren’t there many marine biologist job openings out there?

Because the need for them, especially in this anti-environmental, anti-ocean political environment, is pretty low. Take a look at what they do and until nations and companies realize how important they are to the various aspects of life that involves the ocean, there will not be the high demand seen for those who can build houses or offer other services that are currently in demand. Marine Biologists in general aren't helping much either. Most are in positions that require them to keep their personal views quiet and few have time to promote their profession. Hopefully we can help with all aspects of the above, we feel there are far too few marine biologists employed out there and the ocean needs all it can get, especially now.

15. What classes should I take in high school?

All the sciences and math you can handle and still make the best possible grades. It's a fiercely competitive field (and popular) so do the very best you can in whatever you take. You can also buy used college textbooks and start reading early, there is really very little difference between them and the books you read in high school.

16. How much will college will cost depending on which I go to?

You answered your own question. Colleges cost differently depending upon the school. If you can make really good grades you might be able to get a scholarship which can pay for some/most of your college. If your family makes little, you can apply for grants and loans. Study the colleges offering what you like and ask them all your questions (and ask them early, like now). State schools, like the one I went to, Texas A&M (whoop!), cost a few thousand a semester for tuition and board. You can also take fewer classes and also work to help pay for things.

17. What would life be like without the oceans and seas of the world?

It would be like Mars, worse even, a terrible place. And there would be no life at all, not even bacteria probably. Water = life.

18. What jobs are there to choose from in marine biology?

See http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-biology.asp

19. What type of person would you say is most fitted to learn and become a marine biologist?

A smart person who loves marine life and learning. (though I think if you love marine life and learning then you are a smart person)

20. How many years of training does it take to become qualified?

Typically 6, 4 years undergraduate study and 2 years for a Master's degree.

21. What personal or physical characteristics are needed to qualify for the training?

Only a strong aptitude for science and an interest in marine life is needed. Being good with people and enjoying working hard also helps a lot. Jobs are few so doing very well in school and also being involved in extracurricular things like internships, volunteering, etc. in labs or aquariums is also recommended to help you stand out from the crowd... when it comes to interviews.

22. What previous education is needed to qualify for the training?

Undergraduate training is usually in Biology, Zoology or something along those lines.

From Dr. James B. Wood: http://marinebio.org/marinebio/#jw

Virtual Interview with Dr. James B. Wood, marine biologist.

Not able to answer all the middle school and high school interviews – sometimes I’m on the far side of the planet with no email access and at other times I’m busy with research and teaching duties. However, I noticed that students generally ask the same sorts of questions, so here is an automated interview that should help you complete your assignment and understand what my job is like. Just use the parts that you want to.

1. What is your daily routine?

One of the great things about my job is that often I don’t have a daily routine. Sometimes I sleep in, sometimes we are out till 2 AM in the rain tagging squid because that is what it takes to get the job done. Overall I work a lot, a 60 hour work week is typical.

Right now, I teach from 9 to 5 every Monday and Wednesday and prep and grade for it during much of the rest of the week. I also spend a lot of time online, writing grant proposals, filling out forms, etc. In the summer and fall I have interns and we are in the field at least 2-3 times a week working with octopuses and/or squid. When we are doing field work, out schedule is at the mercy of the weather and when and if we can find the animals we are looking for.

2. Have you always wanted to be a Marine Biologist?

I’ve wanted to work with animals since I was 4. I started being especially interested in marine life in high school – which is also when I caught and kept my first octopus.

3. What is the best part of your job?

Discovering new things, knowing that I’m the first human in the world to see something such as deep-sea octopuses mating and their eggs hatching.

Being outside in the field.

Sharing the marine world with others, teaching enthusiastic students

In short, knowing that I’m making a real difference in the world.

4. What is the worst part of your job?

Not knowing when and if I’ll be paid and trying to find money.

Working with substandard equipment due to lack of funding.

5. How many years of schooling did you do?

After high school I went to college for four years. Then I went to Dalhousie University for graduate school for 5.5 years. Following that, I was essentially a post-doc for three years. To be a research scientist takes a lot of school. Other careers in MB require less education.

More about my educational background, including which schools I went to and what internships I had, is available here: http://www.thecephalopodpage.org/JWood/cv.php

6. What high school courses should I take?

I would suggest you take science, math, English and IT courses.

7. What colleges should I attend?

There are lots of good choices for college. The right choice for you will depend on your h.s. grades (and scholarships), your (parents) financial situation, if you want to move away from home, and what your interests are, etc.

What college you attend matters much less than what you do while you are there.

8. What is the salary range for a Marine Biologist?

Tough question, officially I make a good salary but I often don’t get paid so in my case my official salary is very misleading. Also, I live in Bermuda which is a very expensive place to live. For example, a 2 liter bottle of coke costs $3.45 here . . . and I drink a lot of it!

As a graduate student on full scholarship you will make about 15k a year.
As a post doc, perhaps 25k a year.

Faculty members at major universities average 60k and higher a year and up. Sounds good right? There are some catches: First, you need a lot of education. If you want to make a descent amount of money after your education, become a medical doctor, pilot, engineer, database expert or corrupt politician.

As a faculty member at a “soft money” institution you are expected to write grants which have to be accepted (funded) or you don’t get paid. The last grant I wrote was 120 pages long. Only 10% or so of grants are funded – right now US is investing in Iraq instead of education, healthcare, etc so it is an especially bad time to be a scientist. At soft money institutions like where I work, if you don’t “win” a grant, you don’t get paid except for when you are teaching. If you are teaching, you don’t have much time left over for research. And if you interact with the public, you have even less time to do actual science – yet the public ultimately support many of us.

The economics and role of money in science is the one area which I was least prepared for after my education.

On the plus side, as a scientist I have the opportunity to do some really interesting freelance work – these pay a little but are mostly a lot of fun. In 2006 I wrote questions for the National Ocean Science Bowl, co-wrote an article for Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Magazine, and continued my underwater photography business.

9. Is there a branch of Marine Biology that specializes in studying coral reefs?

There are many people that study coral reefs, some of them work here at BIOS. I’m sure they have a specialized name for themselves.

10. What other branches of Marine Biology are there?

There are groups of people studying most phyla – from sponges to chordates. Many scientists study processes like global warming, carbon cycling or the effect of iron on primary production. Each group has its name and specialized vocabulary; I don’t know many of the really technical names.

I’m a Teuthologist – someone that specializes in cephalopods. Except for other cephalopod geeks, most people, even other scientists, don’t know this term so I just say that I’m a marine biologist specializing in octopuses and squid. If they want to know more, I tell them I am an organismal biologist specializing in life history, ecology, growth physiology and ethology of cephalopods.

You could also say that I’m Malacologist – which translates to “a bad ecologist”. Just kidding, Malacology is someone that studies mollusks, the phyla cephalopods are in. Many other marine biologists would know that term, but I wouldn’t introduce myself at a party with it.

11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be marine biologist?

At the high school level your grades start to matter – good grades will help you get scholarships.

Learn all you can. Get specialized books on the areas you are interested in and read them.

Become a SCUBA diver, volunteer at a local public aquarium, get involved.

Helpful Links:
http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/marinebio/mycareer.html (An interview with a marine biologist.)
http://marinebio.org/students.asp (Info about the marine biology career from marinebio.org)
http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-biology.asp (General info about marine biology)
http://www.marinemammalogy.org/strat.htm (Marine mammology)
~Izzy
Biological Oceanographer

If you think Education is expensive, try Ignorance.
"The inhabitants of the sea have much to teach us." ~Wyland
"I have slipped the bonds of Earth to dance with dolphins." :dolphin: ~Wyland
"If human civilization is going to invade the waters of the earth, then let it be first of all to carry a message of respect." ~ Jacques Cousteau
NOSB: A great way for high schoolers to learn about the oceans.
A whale killed a dolphin but he was acquitted because he didn't do it on porpoise.

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Re: ANSWERS TO THE MARINE BIOLOGY Interview...

Postby dr.hassie » 2/26/12

This Info seems gr8 =) thankx
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